THAT’S WEE IN THE CORNER …
They may be a giant club, but life hasn’t always been easy for Birmingham City. In 1993-94, during a desperate run of form, manager Barry Fry was told about a supposed curse on the club, which was a barrier to them getting out of the old First Division and into the Premiership. Bazza, under instructions from a curse-lifting specialist, marked his scent on all four corners of their St Andrew’s ground. “I am not normally superstitious but after three months I was willing to try anything so I went and took a leak on all four corner flags,” he chirped. “It took me a while – it’s not that easy.” Fry was willing to do anything to get Birmingham out of the First Division, and it worked – they were relegated a couple of months later.
That possibly-apocryphal-and-definitely-embellished-but-frankly-who-cares story might represent a golden age of rational behaviour at Birmingham should Laurence Bassini be successful in his attempt to take over the club. We’ll be honest, we hadn’t heard of Bassini until he went off on several ones on TalkSport earlier. But a quick look through the archives at Fiver Towers shows that his financial dealings are about as pristine as the St Andrew’s corner flags after Fry had worked his exorcistic magic. English football has had many owners, but none have given an interview quite like Bassini’s on Friday morning. It was a breathless pantomime of narcissistic excess that left even deadline-day vet Jim White reeling. At one point White screwed his face up, as if suffering some kind of medical emergency. Then he put his head in his hands for a few seconds, before emerging with the expression of a man who had just seen his dear old nana do a striptease to the soundtrack of Horny by Mousse T.
It really is worth listening to Bassini’s whole interview. He started by boasting about his £235m assets, and that he owns shops on Oxford Street, which if nothing else reminded us that we’re due a good game of Monopoly with Weird Uncle Fiver. Then he started rambling about credit cards, stopping just short of telling everyone what his Egg card balance was on this date 20 years ago. After what felt like weeks but was probably only a few days, Bassini turned to the matter of buying Blues. “I’ve sent £30m to the lawyer who has spoken to the directors and the owners of Birmingham City,” he claimed. “Right, I’m also going to put in, whether they’re bank balance or assets, another £70m, £80m to £100m – do you know why? I’m going to stay in football because I’m going to show all of you lot and I’m going to win the league.” How’s that for clarity of purpose?
The best part came when Bassini turned his attention to Simon Jordan, the TalkSport presenter and former Crystal Palace owner, with the pair shouting over each other for what felt like days but was probably weeks. If The Fiver had played a drinking game every time Bassini screeched “Simon! Simon!”, we’d have been out of contention before brunch. Bassini challenged Jordan to a £100m charity fight, for which he would be trained by Tyson Fury, before making unsubstantiated claims that would make a tea-time email’s lawyers blush. But then things took a left-field turn that even we didn’t see coming. “Simon! You did a film with Kevin Spacey and it failed,” he tooted, implying that a successful film with Spacey would have been something for Simon! to shout about. We haven’t made any of this up, you know. This is modern football, and modern England. Oh for more innocent times, when a man might solve his problems by unburdening himself at all four corners of a football ground.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The Nordic referee, who was refereeing a game involving a Nordic team, gave a penalty. I don’t for one minute say it’s because she was the referee, I’m just saying those statistics were there” – Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels continues to make friends and influence people after their one-sided 4-1 Women’s Euros defeat by Norway.
FIGHTING TALK WITH MICHEL PLATINI
“The truth has come to light during this trial and I deeply thank the judges of the tribunal for the independence of their decision. In this case, there are culprits who did not appear during this trial. Let them count on me, we will meet again because I will not give up and I will go all the way in my quest for truth” – after he and Sepp Blatter were acquitted of fraud in a Swiss court, Michel Platini is ready to channel his inner Charles Bronson and hunt down the “culprits” behind the case against him.
“I hope Leeds will follow up on the signing of left-winger Luís Sinisterra (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs) by coaxing one-time loanee Dexter Blackstock away from his property portfolio to play on the right. And to think my Latin teacher once said I’d never amount to anything” – Steve Allen.
“Andrew Want (yesterday’s Fiver letters) correctly asserted that anyone mentioning Fiver merchandise wins letter o’ the day. I’d like to test this theory to its limits by saying that Fiver merchandise seems at best a middling idea, and I doubt very much whether I would be parting with my hard earned cash for such tat” – Joel Flood.
“I hereby volunteer to purchase and wear one of David Maddock’s limited-edition pedant T-shirts (Fiver letters passim). A maths expert could no doubt confirm the chances of one of the infamous 1,057 pedants, or indeed any other Fiver reader, living here in New Zealand to be being less than zero per cent. Thus rendering the wearing of said shirt a Schrödinger’s cat kinda thing and even more pointless than The Fiver itself” – Rod de Lisle.
“What about putting ‘I read The Fiver … for the letters’ on a T-shirt? I mean, I’m not going to do it. This email was effort enough” – Richard Saunders.
Send your letters to [email protected]. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Steve Allen.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
The Premier League club of the footballer arrested on Monday on suspicion of rape was made aware of a rape allegation against the player last autumn.
Jack Wilshere, our very own Union Jack Wilshere, has called time on his career aged 30. “I have lived my dream,” he sighed.
Brentford will have to reopen their academy – the one they shut down in 2016 on the grounds of bad business – after Premier League clubs voted through a rule dictacting that every member must have one by the 2024-25 season.
And 2017’s Jean Michaël Seri has signed a three-year deal at Hull after being released by Fulham.
STILL WANT MORE?
We’ve got a shiny Golden Boot page for Euro 2022 and it’s here.
Jacob Steinberg explains why Raheem Sterling’s impending move to Chelsea has gone down well in the Stamford Bridge dressing room.
And if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!